Cast your mind back to before WrestleMania XXV.
Cast your mind back to a tag team division riddled with inadequacy.
Cast your mind back to a tag team division on the brink of extinction due to depleted numbers from recent cuts, barely making it onto our screens through sheer embarrassment.
Wasn’t it dull?
Wasn’t it repetitive?
Wasn’t it upsetting?
The short fallings of this division were no secret to anyone, and with good reason. Relatively inexperienced teams were forced to compete with each other on too regular of a basis, and the whole experience grew stale faster than an old piece of bread.
It frankly disgusted us all, and we weren’t afraid to voice our opinion on the matter.
What was apparent though was that the failure of the tag team division did not go unnoticed by the WWE, and they took noticeable steps to counteract the problem.
A problem I believe has now not only been rectified, but has taken on a whole new positive existence.
The first key change came at WrestleMania, when the tag titles were unified.
Having only a handful of tag teams compete for two titles in the old manner just extenuated the problems already faced by the division, and it was almost unanimous that the subsequent unification was the best step forward.
Reducing the prizes on offer allowed teams to develop rivalries that not only weren’t overused, but could be built on with a respectable level of dignity and patience.
In the current storylines we have DX, two storied veterans of the ring, brewing an exciting rivalry with Legacy’s young bucks Rhodes and DiBiase.
A year or so ago one of these teams would almost certainly have held one of the two tag team titles, which frankly would have marred the animosity and hostility currently boiling over between the two.
Titles can offer a reasonable incentive for a feud, but when the pool of competitors is only a fraction of what it could be, I feel they just get in the way.
By now, either of these teams would have been forced to yield their No.1 contender rights for the title to another duo, and the whole thing would have been for nothing.
Another half-baked plot would be introduced, and we would be back to square one.
By simply allowing this hatred of one another to take prominence not only justifies their confrontations in my eyes, but adds excitement and flair to an already promising conflict.
The same can be said of Cryme Tyme’s and The Hart Dynasty’s feud; involvement of the tag team titles would only confuse things, and make outcomes more predictable.
The other key change to the division came when Edge and Chris Jericho thrusted their way onto the tag team scene, and set a recent precedent for others to follow suit by pairing off in this way.
We now have teams like Jericho and The Big Show, Batista and Rey Mysterio, Mark Henry and MVP, DX as I mentioned earlier, and to a lesser extent Vladimir Kozlov and Ezekiel Jackson, who have brought a whole new blend of skills, attitudes, and fighting styles to the tag team table.
Now, I would like to make it known that I have never been the biggest advocate of singles competitors forming unusual tag teams.
The chemistry you feel between long standing alliances formed by years of collaborating cannot easily be replicated, and there is often no substitute for it.
Obscure or untested pairings often don’t work, and result in teams that are not a team per se, merely the union of two singles wrestlers.
However, not only do I think the mixes we have currently are working, but they benefit the WWE in a whole other manner.
The WWE powers-that-be value their big stars air time so much, that they will put them in any old feud or situation to get them on the television, often with dire consequences.
Does anyone remember the John Cena/Big Show feud not so long ago?
The quintessential bore-fest I am getting at.
They feel that they need to get these guys about, and it had been suffocating the other talent further down the roster.
With stars like Jericho, Big Show, MVP, Rey Mysterio, Batista, Mark Henry, and others, being utilized in the tag team division, it creates space for people like The Miz, Morrison, Dolph Ziggler, and Jack Swagger to name a few, to really get their teeth stuck into this industry and show us what they can do.
You may argue that the tag teams that have been fabricated are too ad lib, and should have been thought more carefully about, but the proof is in the pudding, and we are witnessing more exciting tag matches than at any point in recent history that I can remember.
The most important change, though, is how frequently tag team matches take prominence on the WWE’s schedule.
They clearly find it important to showcase their ability to work good tag team feuds, now they have the right tools to do so, and I for one am happy to sit back and receive what they are offering.
There will always be the critics of the WWE, specifically of the tag division given its recent bad track record, but when the matches are enjoyable can you really complain?
The statement that “prestige is being brought back to the WWE’s tag team division” is often muttered, but I disagree.
It is back.
Chris Jericho and The Big Show have been given one of the most impressive tag team runs in recent history. Not only due to the length of time they have held them, but to the manner in which they regularly defend them.
All the steps the WWE took that I discussed allowed this to happen, as they are not pressured into constantly defending the title against the same people, which would eventually force a title change, and because they and other tag teams and major superstars have been given their roaming space due to the formation of new teams.
They are truely doing the division proud, along with the many other teams regularly putting on great matches.
You may disagree, but think of it this way:
We will never, EVER, be reduced to watching Trevor and Murdoch attempt to prop up the WWE's tag team division again.
For that we can be thankful.
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